Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Unbearable Shiteness of Beans

One thing that can make fully grown and seemingly rational adults suddenly metamorphose into squealing toddlers is food.

I have seen intelligent people with well paid, responsible jobs pull ludicrous faces and make 'Eurrgh' noises when presented with a plate of broccolli.

I once bought some Wild Boar sausages from a farmers market and when I told a couple of people about it they instantly wrinkled their noises, made 'Eurrgh' noises and said that it sounded disgusting.

Why are they disgusting? They are only pretentious pork sausages.

I was once eating a potato salad that contained broccolli that I had made myself when a work colleague asked why I wasn't eating 'normal' food.

Now people have been eating vegetables for thousands of years so surely this is normal. What my colleague was eating was a pasty he had bought from a petrol station with so many flavour enhancers and stabilizers in it that the list of ingredients took up half the packet. How is this considered normal food?

Parents across the world each day face a mealtime battle with sulky kids half-heartedly pushing decent food around their plates and whining because it isn't beige-coloured, lathered in saturated fat and endorsed by a talking cartoon animal. For many of these children this attitude towards food continues into adulthood.

In our culture we are bombarded by companies enticng us to buy mass produced food, so industrially processed that the flavour and smell have to be added chemically. This level of advertising saturation makes it seem that junk food is inevitable but this is not the case.

It's only been in the past 50 years or so that the inustrialisation of food has taken place but it has been so aggressive that many of us think that it has always been this way and are distrustful and wary of food that doesn't come with advertising and colourful packaging.

I think this is one of the reasons why many people build up a preconcieved notion of healthy food and dismiss it out of hand without ever even trying it.

What picky eaters need to do when confronted with a food they have not tried before is to not immediately regress to infanthood but to put it in their mouth, chew and then swallow.

That way if they don't like it they are qualified to say so and don't ever need to eat it again.

Easy, Easy.

When I was younger I was a member of a wrestling club for a while. I had no particular love for the sport but the club used to get free, unsupervised access to a local school swimming pool on Monday evenings and that was the attraction for me.

We used to turn the heating up full until the pool was so warm it steamed and had water fights with the firehoses.

Back then American wrestling was unheard of in England and we had our own wrestling stars.

Arguably the most famous was Big Daddy who came from my home town of Halifax in Yorkshire. He used to wear a top hat and his battle cry was 'Easy, Easy' and his signature move was the Big Daddy Splash' which entailed a very fat man belly flopping on your head.

In fact most British wrestlers back then tended to be on the chubby side, Giant Haystacks was six foot eleven inches tall and looked like a huge cannonball with a beard.

The audience seemed to consist mainly of old ladies, some of whom would become so crazed with blood lust they would hit the wrestlers with their handbags if they were thrown from the ring.

The big, fat lads are pretty much gone now, replaced by the pumped-up, shouty, mulleted egomaniacs of American wrestling with their over-the-top threats and fireworks.

I've never really got wrestling, it seems to be a violent sport for people who don't like violence. Everything is choreographed and staged and everyone knows that no-one will really be hurt, unlike boxing or cage fighting where the violence is very much real.

It is pure entertainment and spectacle and seems a long way from what I learned at wrestling school which was grapples, holds and throws. We never learned how to hit someone over the head with a folding chair or clatter someone with a step ladder.

So wrestling is a fairly harmless pantomime with no real injuries. Unless you count all the wrestlers who have died from heart failure due to steroid abuse, that is.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Ada's Last Journey.

Yesterday I went for a walk with my Dad and my wife onto Ilkley Moor in Yorkshire. My Dad is 75 years old and not too good on his feet these days so he was struggling and had to keep stopping for breaks.

We pushed on through the ferns and heather, climbing a secluded gully with a stream running down it in the midday sun. I walked closely behind Dad so I could grab him if he fell but didn't make it too obvious as he is still a proud man, he served in the Royal Navy and the police until back injury forced him out.

Ordinarily he wouldn't be walking terrain like this but we were on a mission of duty. I was carrying a rucksack on my back.

It wasn't very heavy as all it contained was the ashes of my grandmother Ada Porch.

She died on April 22nd last year, eight months shy of her 100th birthday and my dad felt it was time to make the pilgrimage and scatter her remains on the moors above the small town of Burley-in-Wharfedale where she was born and raised.

We finally stopped halfway up the gully next to a water fall. This was the same spot where my dad had scattered the ashes of my mother 16 years ago. My grandma's husband had been killed in North Africa during World War 2 and my mother was her only child, she had never remarried.
She moved in with my parents before I was born and lived with us for many years, to me and my brothers it was like having three parents so we were close to her.

We stood by the waterfall as my dad took the ashes from the rucksack.

"Here we are Ada", he said, "back with your daughter again after all these years".

"You were always telling us you were a nuisance and in the way but we were glad you were always there for us", I said as my dad cast the ashes into the waterfall and we watched them swirl in the pool below and settle on the surrounding rocks.

When I was a kid my grandma would buy me a Pink Panther chocolate bar every Saturday when she came back from town. She walked me to infant school every day when I was young.

She baked the best Butterfly buns in the world.

She smoked Peter Stuyvesant cigarettes and liked to put whisky in her tea. She was always there for us and we all loved her.

Ada Porch, December 5th 1910 - April 22nd 2010.

Night night Grandma.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Time Off.

I've not been able to blog as much as I like for the past few weeks. Big changes at work and doing shifts have taken up for more time than they should. The good news is that I have just got tomorrow to get through then I'm off walking in the Welsh mountains for a week.

Where I am going is fairly isolated so no Wi-fi therefore no blogging for a week. Before I sign off I just want to bring a couple of blogs to your attention. Firstly the is a brilliantly written, open and honest blog where Amy charts her weight loss and exercise regime, well worth a look.

Secondly is where Core posts short, sharp and always funny observations that I dare you not to laugh at.

So, wish me luck as I scramble up Mount Snowdon and don't wait up.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Mopey Cole

The most tragic person in the world is Cheryl Cole. She must be because the British tabloid press have given acres of coverage to the fact that she has been sacked from the American version of X Factor.

This is not the only time that the British media have obssessed over Cole's trials and tribulations.

She blubbed her way through an hour long interview over her failed marriage to Premiership footballer and alleged cockateer Ashley Cole on Piers Morgans Life Stories, a bland-a-thon celebrity jabber show where the eponymous, toffee-faced posho 'interviews' a collection of his celebrity mates in front of an audience of silent and star-struck peasants.

From the way she dabbed her tear filled, mascara'd eyes you'd have thought this was the end of the greatest romance the world had ever known instead of just another showbiz marriage where one of the parties had succumbed to temptation.

I'm not saying that she shouldn't be upset over the marriage failure or when things go wrong with her career but this Queen of Tragedy label is a bit melodramatic.

Her hunger for fame has helped her win a talent competition and she has allowed herself to be moulded into an effective money producing unit by Simon Cowell. This elevation by the media into 'The Nation's Sweetheart' is all part of the money machine.

Being portrayed as a tragic victim that we should feel sorry for is laughable. Her life is not a mess. She has pursued what she wanted and achieved it. She will live comfortably for the rest of her life and need never work again.

Now THIS is tragedy: I was at work recently when a call was received from an elderly lady saying that her neighbour had come into her bedroom through her wardrobe.

She told me her husband had died ten years ago and she had lost touch with her family and had lived alone for years. She had no-one left in her life and was becoming convinced that the man who lived next door was 'up to no good' and was trying to get into her house. It soon became apparent that she was suffering with dementia and was seeing things that were not there.

She asked me to sit down and she would make me a cup of tea. Sadly I could not accept this as we were talking on the phone and had never met. Her dementia was making her believe I was in the room with her.

So here is a question, who do you feel the most sympathy for: a pampered, multi-millionaire musician who has spent the last couple of years as judge over the hopes of deluded karaoke singers: or a sad, lonely old lady sliding inexorably into dementia with no-one left in her life to witness this apart from an over-stretched care system? Just one tiny soul in a sea of other lost souls.

Tune in next week for more laughs.